Did you know, the UK produces approximately 60% of all the food we consume. This means a reduced carbon footprint and fewer "food miles". That is great! However, the UK is also one of the most wasteful countries in Europe, when it comes to food.
Globally, we waste approximately a third of all the food produced and the UK is about average in this respect. The main culprits by far are supermarkets, shops, homes and restaurants which order/buy in food often in excess of requirement. The result; approximately 8 million tonnes of food is wasted annually in the UK. This is particularly jarring as approximately 8.5 million people are in food poverty in the UK. It has been estimated that the food wasted in the UK could be sufficient to feed upwards of 30 million people*. An unbalanced situation.
A common misconception is that food waste is not a concern, environmentally speaking, as it decomposes relatively quickly (compared to plastics, for example). In actual fact, decomposing organic matter produces vast quantities of methane gas, which compared to carbon dioxide, is 25 times more effective as a "green-house" gas, i.e. it is very effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
What can be done to reduce food waste? By far, the majority of food is wasted due to ineffective/inefficient planning. Both on a domestic and commercial level, we need to refine the food purchasing, storing and consumption process. It may seem obvious but it is often the smallest changes that procure the biggest results.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia-OpenIDUser2, GFDL <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>, via Wikimedia Commons)
Some tips for reducing food waste at home.
1) Bread is one of the most wasted food types. Try replacing snacks such as chocolate, crisps and sweets with toast. If you have excess bread, be sure to put it in the freezer. Most sliced breads can be toasted from frozen in a couple of minutes.
2) Make croutons - an ideal use for stale/old bread. Nice when cut into chunks and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar extract or simply use in a dressed salad.
3) If a loaf of bread is a little past its best, sprinkle its surface with water (do not saturate) and briefly heat in the oven at gas mark 5 or 6.
4) Do not store bread in a fridge as this increases the rate of decomposition. Instead, keep it in a brown paper bag.
5) Sliced white bread is ideal for a nice Sunday dessert in the form of a bread and butter pudding. There are many varying recipes for bread and butter pudding so feel free to choose your favourite. The addition of chocolate is generally welcomed by many.
(A few sourdough loaves)
6) You can save all the breadcrumbs produced during general slicing and preparation and then use to coat certain foods etc.
* Extract from an article @www.businesswaste.co.uk